Scott Taylor: An emeritus Church leader and his wife recount their Mexico-to-Mesa temple trips

Elder and Sister De Hoyos explain why for them the Mesa Arizona Temple is ‘the temple’ and why they plan to return in 2025 to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary

Elder Benjamin De Hoyos and Sister Evelia De Hoyos found themselves enveloped by longtime friends and extended family outside the Puebla Mexico Temple both before and after its Sunday, May 19, dedication.

The emeritus General Authority Seventy and his wife had lived in the temple’s namesake city in east-central Mexico for eight years early in their marriage and his career in the Church Educational System. Two of their six children were born in Puebla and still live there with their own families.

Elder De Hoyos labeled the newest house of the Lord as “a blessing, a crown for the exceptional people of Puebla, not only for their faithfulness but for giving their heart to the temple.”

Well-documented are accounts of the area’s multiple generations of faithful Latter-day Saints — Puebla’s first convert baptisms date back to 1923 — who for decades made great sacrifices to attend a temple and perform saving, eternal ordinances for themselves and their deceased ancestors.

The Puebla Mexico Temple basks in the afternoon sun in preparation for the dedication ceremony the following day in Puebla, Mexico, Saturday, May 18, 2024. | Brian Nicholson, for the Deseret News

Like others across Mexico, they first started making long, costly trips to the Mesa Arizona Temple when it began offering Spanish-language ordinances and instruction in 1945. It was the closest house of the Lord to Mexico until the dedication of the Mexico City Mexico Temple in 1983.

“It was a great sacrifice for many to go to the temple in Mesa, especially for large families,” explained Elder De Hoyos, who was 17 years old when he first went to Mesa with his parents and family to be sealed together as a family. On the same temple excursion, he received his patriarchal blessing in Arizona, as there was no patriarch in his hometown of Monterrey.

Five years later, Benjamin De Hoyos was a 22-year-old recently returned missionary living in Mexico City and dating an 18-year-old young woman there by the name of Evelia Genesta Mendívil.

“My father, who was getting along in years, was planning to go to Mesa to the temple to accompany one of my younger sisters who was getting married and sealed there,” Elder De Hoyos recalled. “Surprisingly, he asked me, ‘Are you certain that the young woman that you are going with right now is the right young woman for you?’”

The son confirmed as much.

“Well, then come with us to the Mesa temple,” said the father, waving off the young couple’s concerns of lacking formal plans, arrangements, money and wedding attire. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to accompany you later, because of my old age.”

Elder De Hoyos said of their June 1975 marriage: “I’m not sure how we did it, but we went to Mesa to join my parents and take the opportunity to be sealed together and to have them with us for that.”

Sister De Hoyos was accompanied by her widowed mother, as the converts of less than two years experienced their first temple ordinances. Elder De Hoyos served as proxy, representing their deceased father and husband in the baptism, confirmation, endowment and sealings. “Everything — it was all very special,” she said.

The Mesa Arizona Temple is pictured in Mesa, Ariz., on Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

The trip was typical of a locally organized temple excursion — 48 hours each way, sleeping both nights and eating meals on the bus, which wasn’t equipped with a restroom.

Two years into their marriage, the De Hoyoses moved to Puebla, witnessing the local fervor for temple work. “Our stake here didn’t go to the temple just one time a year,” Sister De Hoyos said. “We went twice a year.

Caravans of two or three buses often carried “many large families going to the temple for the first time, making great sacrifices to go,” she added. The De Hoyos family used his work vacations to make the long, hot trips — more than 1,500 miles one way across northern Mexico and southern Arizona. Their last from Puebla came less than two months before the December 1983 dedication of the Mexico City temple, which they also attended.

“We have been very blessed by temples — first in our families, then together, and then with our children and extended family,” Elder De Hoyos said. “But Mesa continues being for us ‘the temple.’”

Thirteen months from now, on June 25, 2025, the De Hoyoses will celebrate their golden anniversary by taking their children and extended family back to where it all started in 1975.

“When we were married and sealed in Mesa on that occasion, we weren’t prepared — for example, we didn’t have clothes as the bride and groom,” Elder De Hoyos said. “And so we’re going to return to Mesa and take some photos there at the front door, 50 years later.”

“And,” added Sister De Hoyos with a smile, “maybe this time with a wedding dress.”

Scott Taylor is managing editor of the Church News.

Members gather together early to attend the dedication of the Puebla Mexico Temple in Puebla, Mexico, Sunday, May 19, 2024. | Brian Nicholson, for the Deseret News
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